Six tips for paying down your holiday debt

Banking & budgeting

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Six tips for paying down your holiday debt

Banking & budgeting

The year-end may make for good tidings to all and a most wonderful time of year, but all too often it comes at the expense of your checking account.

Estimates are that the average American adds almost a thousand dollars in debt during the holidays. And with interest rates higher than ever, this results in yet more money lost to debt payments.

So let’s start the New Year off right by going over six ways to help you pay down your holiday in record time.


If you receive a 0%-balance transfer offer, grab your calculator and work through if the amount you’d save from zero interest would be greater than what you would pay on your current card (don’t forget to include the transfer fee).

Even if you’re only saving a few dollars, make the switch. It’s a great first step to getting into a money-saving habit.

Of course, you can always give your current card issuer a call and see if you can negotiate a lower rate to keep you from leaving. Either way, you come out on top.


Financial advisors frequently counsel to pay off the debt with the highest interest first since that has the greatest financial impact. However, psychologists recommend paying off the smallest debt first and then adding, or snowballing, that payment onto the next-lowest for a sense of accomplishment that’ll keep you going over the long haul.

Neither is necessarily better than the other; it comes down to how much discipline you have vs. how much nudging and rewarding you might need.


Budget-wise, that is.

Can you give up Netflix for a month? Or opt for Netflix over a night at the movies? How about cutting cable entirely? Or at least dropping one of the add-on packages. Can you skip your morning $5 caffeine hit once a week? Twice?

It doesn’t have to be triple-digit cuts—though that would be great—even knocking $10 a week is a great start. What matters is taking action.

Cutting back on your monthly spend also offers a great chance to see if you can live comfortably with less; if the monthly “must have” you paid for six months ago is still worth paying for, or the next shiny bauble will actually be worth it.

You can even make it a game. For one month, say “No thank you” to all non-essential spending—on your own or when invited to go out with friends—and take the money you would have spent and put it towards your debt.

Oh, and it should go without saying, that if you don’t have a budget, start one. You’ll be amazed at how little you knew about how much you spend. Once that’s done, trimming back is a lot easier.


There’s nothing that says you can only make one payment a month on your debt. Making multiple smaller payments throughout the month will result in less interest paid because interest owed is based on your average daily balance.

If your balance declines two or three times a month, then you’ll end up owing less in the long run.


Maybe that means driving once a week for Lyft, joining an online freelancing site like TaskRabbit, or teaching conversational English online from your home. Even an extra $50 a week can knock months off a $1000 debt.

And if you keep the gig year-round, you’ll have earned more than enough to pay for all of next year’s holiday purchases, too, which will put you ahead of the game.


Consider using some of your airline points for cash to pay down your debt.

Some may argue that the rate isn’t the greatest, but getting out of debt sooner than later is its own reward. Plus, since airlines are constantly devaluing their points by the time you do get around to using them, you may actually get less value.


Being in debt makes everything that much harder, but there’s no reason you have to stay in debt.

With some planning and a little discipline, you can start whittling it down bit by bit each day until eventually, you’re knocking out great chunks every month. Before you know it, it’ll be gone.